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Gen Con is officially canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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The nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention went 52 years without interruption

Gen Con wargames hall feature photo essay gallery Photo: Charlie Hall

Gen Con, the United States’ largest tabletop gaming convention, is officially canceled on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The convention was to take place from July 30 through Aug. 2 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Word came Tuesday via social media and in an official news release.

“This will be the first time in the 50+ year history of Gen Con that we will miss the chance to see each other in person, and it hurts,” said Peter Adkison, co-owner of Gen Con, “but nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our attendees and the communities they hail from.”

Named after its original venue in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Gen Con started as an annual celebration of wargaming and tabletop role-playing games — especially Dungeons & Dragons. The convention moved to its current venue in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2003 before celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. Attendance peaked in 2019 with more than 70,000 attendees. An online event is set to take place starting July 30 and running through Aug. 2.

The cancellation comes just one day after the announcement that Europe’s largest board gaming convention, Essen Spiel, would also be canceled. That annual event takes place in October, and also peaked last year with over 209,000 attendees.

Both Gen Con and Essen Spiel represent a large retail opportunity for tabletop game publishers and distributors. The loss of both events comes at a terrible time for the industry, which is suffering due to store closures, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing rules which make it impossible for groups to gather around the table together.

Those who had planned to attend Gen Con are encouraged to visit the official website for more information about refunds and the cancellation of their hotel rooms.